The Christmas Cat again.
And this time he’s pissed off. Unfashionable children beware.
The Christmas Cat
Art by Hugleikur Dagsson
Words by Haukur S. Magnússon @ The Reykjavík Grapevine"We’ve got this database of monsters and creatures in our past. These stories are fascinating, it’s a shame that they’re not used more in modern culture,” remarked comic artist Hugleikur Dagsson in an interview this summer. The Grapevine promptly drafted Dagsson to illustrate a series of articles on these monsters of yore. For this ninth installment in the series Dagsson depicts one of Iceland’s creepiest critters and the reason we sport cool new threads during the holidays; Jólakötturinn, the Christmas Cat.
Jólakötturinn is a lovable, wholly unholy beast, a sort of proto-fashion police whose impeccable sense of style, in your face attitude and lack of respect for human life terrified Icelanders into stylistic submission in ways that today’s anorexia-inducing Vogues and Cosmopolitans can only dream of. The ginormous cat’s sole purpose in life is to eat children (and adults, some say) that do not get a new piece of clothing before Christmas. Yes, it devours financially disadvantaged children.This is the kind of message Icelanders like to send out in their folklore: if you do not have the money or means of acquiring new items of clothing before the festival of lights, you will be eaten by a gigantic cat. This is one of the reasons that Icelanders clock in more hours of overtime at their jobs than most European nations: to avoid the cat, we stayed up sewing or knitting in the olden days, and we stayed up graphic designing or stock-brokering in early 2008.
Some versions of the Jólakötturinn story actually claim he did no such thing as eat kids, opting rather to steal all their food and holiday treats instead. While its a far cry better than chewing them to a bloody pulp and devouring their tasty flesh, its still real mean of him. Not much is known about Jólakötturinn’s origins, in fact a famous poem about him by Iceland’s beloved bard Jóhannes úr Kötlum accurately proclaimed that “no one knows where he’s from or where he goes”.
Although he is believed to have terrified Icelanders since the dark ages, written records detailing the murderous feline and its children-eating ways only go back to the nineteenth century. He is thought to be the house-cat of the evil troll Grýla (she also liked the taste of children – more on her in next issue), her troll husband Leppalúði and the non-trollish thirteen mischief-making Yule-lads in a cave somewhere up in the mountains. As far as we know, Jólakötturinn and his evil, biting teeth are still at large. Merry Christmas, everybody!”
It missed me last year. I have high hopes for this year too.
The Legend of the Yule Cat
The Yule Cat (Jólakötturinn or Jólaköttur) is a monster from Icelandic folklore, a huge and vicious cat said to lurk about the snowy countryside during Christmastime and eat people who had not received new clothes to wear before Christmas Eve.
The threat of being eaten by the Yule Cat was used by farmers as an incentive for their workers to finish processing the autumn wool before Christmas. The ones who took part in the work would be rewarded with new clothes, but the others would get nothing and thus be preyed upon by the monstrous cat.
All hail Yule Cat.
I’d like to start by apologizing for the photo quality. There’s something wrong with the camera I usually use, and the one I used for this project is cheaper and less understanding about the fact that my hands shake a lot. Also I can’t figure out how to use some features because the manual is a PDF this computer refuses to read.
[This project is from Tape It & Make More by Richela Fabian Morgan.]
What you need to make this thing:
- regular silver duct tape
- red duct tape
- cutting mat
- ruler if your cutting mat doesn’t have measurement marks
- pattern printed out
- permanent marker or something else that writes on duct tape
- red thread
- sewing needle (or you can use a tapestry needle because the hole’s bigger)
Cut out the pattern. This will take a while. Some of the lines aren’t straight, but that’s okay because your scissor blades should be.
Next you’re gonna make what the book calls a “double-sided” sheet. This phrase is of course ridiculous. Let’s call it two layers. The book calls for 14 inches wide and five inches tall. This is a fucking scam to make you waste tape, as the pattern isn’t even eleven inches wide. It’s also four inches tall, but I’ll give them the extra play there. I made mine about eleven inches across.
The first layer has a strip of red in the middle. I made it like this:
It wasn’t until just now, reading the instructions again, that I realized I did it backwards. Put the red strip down FIRST.
No, I don’t know how you’re supposed to measure it like that. YOU figure it out.
Either way, be careful peeling up a sheet made like this, because it will separate very easily. Don’t do the back the same way.
Trace the pattern onto the back.
Be really careful cutting this out because you don’t want to cut through the middle. I suppose it would be reparable, but it would still be a pain in the ass.
You are to fasten the triangles together by using small strips of the silver tape. How small? This is almost too big:
So smaller than half an inch in all directions. You may have some more play if you make the fucking sheet right, I don’t know.
Keep on going all the way around, leaving two triangles on one end unfastened.
Put a small piece of tape under the tab and stick it inside the ball.
Next you need to prepare the string to hang it by. (This stuff came out of a dollar store sewing kit.) Cut about 12 inches of red thread and run one end through one button hole and the other end through the opposite button hole. Match up the ends so the button is in the middle of the thread. This would be even easier with a shank button, but there are none of those in my sewing kit.
Thread both ends of the thread through the needle (it is okay to use a tapestry needle if you are as bad at threading as I am). Then insert the whole shebang into the ornament and run the needle through the top.
Knot the thread a few times. You may also want to put a small piece of silver tape across the opening so the button doesn’t slip out.
Seal up the last two pieces to finish.
Isn’t it FAB? I may cry.
time: about 50 minutes
cost: $9.46 US
injuries: none physical
You can buy this magnificent mess here.
This is the cafepress store design I’ve had the most success with: http://www.cafepress.com/hearthomos
I try to put every product in this store, as long as the logo fits. So in addition to shirts there’s a wine stopper and shoes. I’m updating tonight, check it out.
Before we get into the project today, I’d like to talk a little about the book I got it from, I’m Dreaming of a Green Christmas by Anna Getty.
It’s a strange book, a combination of counter-productive measures and rich folks’ cluelessness I haven’t seen anywhere else yet. One of the projects is to glue recycled glass shards to pinecones. The recycled glass pieces have to be bought in Salt Lake City, so unless you live there I’m gonna guess the environmental impact of recycling will be canceled out by that of having them shipped to you.
Most of the stuff in here is like that. There’s a recipe for “truffled goat cheese macaroni and cheese” that says in the intro that you can order truffles from Oregon (author lives in LA by the way), which hardly matters because what the recipe actually calls for is “truffled salt” IMPORTED FROM ITALY.
I guess it’s my own increasing, crushing poverty that makes me so intolerant of this crap. I’m bitter, old and poor—and I don’t like mushrooms anyway.
What you need to make this thing:
- white scrap paper (yes, book specifies white)
- pencil (probably should use one more “green” than mine)
- 5 twigs about 4 inches long and of similar width
- "nontoxic" glue gun—not knowing what that is, I’m just using my regular one
- thin ribbon or twine or thread or whatever
- newspaper (not mentioned in book, but great for keeping hot glue off your counter)
- scissors (NMIB)
First you should plug in your hot glue gun. Next the instructions say to “draw the shape of a five-pointed star on the white paper with the pencil and ruler.”
Extrapolating from the rext of the instructions, I figured out that this star should be big enough to use as a pattern for the twigs. Unfortunately, this is what happens when I draw a star with a ruler:
Then you arrange the twigs on the star:
This is not looking promising.
Use the hot glue gun to fasten your twigs together in the vague semblance of a star.
While you are waiting for the hot glue to dry, you should unplug the glue gun. Mine doesn’t have an on or off switch, just a plug. It’s very green not to waste energy and glue.
I made an astonishing amount of glue strings considering the little bit of glue used.
When the glue has set, wrap ribbon or twine or whatever around the glued spots for fanciness and also because hot glue may soften if your tree has a lot of lights and then your star will just be some fucking twigs again.
This is where you will need the scissors, which the author forgot about. The last bit is the trickiest. You have to wind the ribbon around the spot and then make a hanging loop. There is absolutely no guidance on how to do that in the fucking book, so I had to figure it out myself. You can’t just wrap it and tie it in a loop, you have to first wrap the sticks, then tie a knot:
THEN you can make the loop. Somehow. I think I may have accidentally made a slipknot.
While I was fucking around with that, this side decided it didn’t want to be wrapped any more:
Son of a DICK.
You should probably make the spot where the hot glue shows the least the front.
Well hot damn! That is..
Ugly. Just really fucking ugly. Wow.
cost: about $2 US, more if you run out and get a nontoxic glue gun, whatever the hell that is
time: about half an hour
injuries: severe hand cramps from tying tiny knots
You can buy this stupid thing here.
I did not have time to do a project this week, so lets have a look at some stupid bullshit I’m NOT going to do.
"Tribal inspired." Right. They look like half-assed flying saucers.
I would have made one of these for you, but apparently getting it to look like a dick is pure chance.
You’re the best, dad! Here’s a pile of garbage.
The chalkboard part’s a great idea, though, he can erase it and give you a “Biggest Cheapskate” trophy.
This looks PERFECTLY safe.
Nothing more practical than a table nothing will stand up on!
Hey, like my avatar? My brother drew it, and it is available on many fine products!